Psychologists vary on what they believe the “average” attention span of a child may be. Some assert that the child’s age plus two minutes is the average. That means most kindergarteners (most are five years old) have a seven-minute attention span.
Others insist that the age of the child multiplied by three to five minutes is the average. These folks think that a six-year-old, or average first grader, can concentrate for 18 to 30 minutes. Few of these people have taught first grade.
Sales experts plan on a seven-minute attention span for an executive to listen to a sales presentation. Some college professors plan on a 20-minute attention span for their adult students.
Some researchers have determined that attention span is decreasing because most people watch seven- to eight-minute television shows that then switch to commercials. Others claim that our children have shorter attention spans depending on the amount of television or video games they play each day.
Whatever the attention span, the amount of learning is dependent on the ability to concentrate.
International Mathematics scores and attention span
An interesting study in the results of TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) found a correlation between attention span and Maths scores. All students had to fill a very long background questionnaire before even attempting the main test. The questionnaires were so long that some students simply ticked random responses towards the end.
Several experts observed this and did a small experiment. They found out that students who had the focus to complete the background questionnaires properly generally scored better in their Maths assessment.
How to increase attention span
While the practice yoga and meditation have been linked to improvements in attention span, they may not be every child’s cup of tea. It would be easier if you could cut down the sugar intake of children, especially soft drinks and candy. If you need to reward children, try sugar-free candies instead of the regular sugar-loaded treats.
If you are helping your child with school work, abstain from supplying the correct answers immediately to students when they do their corrections. Try explaining the problem from a different angle and give them the opportunity to think and work out the answer.
Students should be supplied worksheets for which they may answer at least 50% of the questions, or up to 90%, if they are as young as 9 years old. Having too many tough questions in a worksheet can break the concentration of a student and discourage him from persevering.
Make sure that the young ones get adequate sleep of at least 6-8hrs. Sleep deprivation leads to inattentiveness. Allegations once arose that the Chernobyl disaster was caused by reactor personnel who were on 16-hour shift and who were in a state equivalent to drunkedness at the end of it.
Turn off the televesion and computer and bring out the books. Encourage your child to read on a regular basis. Daily silent reading of 20mins or more can enhance concentration. Make sure that your child has many interesting and easy-to-read books readily available.
Visit your doctor if your child shows signs of an attention deficit disorder. A chemical imbalance will reduce the ability to concentrate. Medication can restore attention and make it easier to complete mental tasks.
Lastly, take a vitamin B-12 supplement. Symptoms of a B-12 deficiency include the inability to concentrate and depression. Ask your doctor if you suspect your child has a deficiency.
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